American Society on Aging Awards HRC Foundation and SAGE for Groundbreaking Work Advancing LGBTQ+ Inclusion in Senior Housing

by Jared Todd

On March 27, the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s Health & Aging team and SAGE, were recognized by the American Society on Aging (ASA) for our partnership in developing the Long Term Care Equality Index (LEI), a benchmark of LGBTQ+ inclusive and accepting policies in senior housing. ASA’s diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) award is given in recognition of outstanding leadership and excellence in DEI, and was presented as part of the On Aging conference in Atlanta, GA.

ASA accepted nominations from its entire membership of more than 5,000. From all the received nominations, the Health & Aging program and SAGE were selected. The LEI is led and produced by HRC Foundation’s Director of Health & Aging Tari Hanneman, HRC Foundation’s Associate Director of the Aging Equality Project Dan Stewart and SAGE’s Senior Director of Strategic Initiatives and Partnerships Sherrill Wayland. The LEI team works with a broad network of long term-care facilities and communities with the goal of breaking down systemic inequities in health and wellness for older LGBTQ+ people. You can read more about the team here.

From left to right: Sherrill Wayland (SAGE), Tari Hanneman (HRC), Dan Stewart (HRC), SAGE CEO Michael Adams

HRC Foundation’s Health & Aging program and SAGE are making long-term care more inclusive and accessible to everyone in the LGBTQ+ community. We’re honored to receive recognition from the American Society on Aging. Every person deserves to age with dignity and to access quality care and services, no matter one’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Our goal is to achieve full lived equality for every LGBTQ+ person as they grow older by working with senior communities and long-term care providers to enact more intentional, inclusive policies and practices."

Tari Hanneman, HRC Foundation Director of Health & Aging

SAGE estimates that there are three million LGBTQ+ adults over age 50 in the U.S. That number is expected to reach around seven million by 2030. More than half of LGBTQ+ older people report being discriminated against in employment and/or housing. Here are just a few of the challenges faced by LGBTQ+ elders:

  • Two times as likely to be single and live alone,

  • Four times less likely to have children,

  • And are more likely to face poverty and homelessness.

As the world’s largest LGBTQ+ aging organization, we are honored to receive the American Society on Aging’s Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Award with our partner, the HRC Foundation. Inclusive and equitable care is crucial for LGBTQ+ elders, and that’s what the Long-Term Care Equality Index is all about. We strongly believe that the LEI helps both LGBTQ+ elders and the providers who take responsibility for their care. We know that this initiative is particularly important to our most vulnerable community members – including LGBTQ+ elders of color, trans elders, and those living in rural areas who face discrimination and inadequate care not only because of their sexual orientation and gender identity, but also bias and health disparities rooted in race, ethnic identity, and socioeconomic status."

Michael Adams, SAGE CEO

According to the LEI 2021, HRC Foundation and SAGE researched over 115 of the largest continuing care retirement communities and skilled nursing facilities and found that of the 60 communities that included an enumerated resident nondiscrimination policy statement on their website, only 18% were fully LGBTQ+ inclusive and protected residents based on their sexual orientation and their gender identity. When it came to employee non-discrimination policies, we were able to find 69 enumerated policies, and 36% were fully LGBTQ+ inclusive.

The LEI was first announced in 2019. The LEI 2023 will feature data on LGBTQ+ inclusion in the policies and practices of nearly 200 long-term care communities that completed the first LEI survey. The report will be released in late May.